Zenit News Agency, Italy
Dec 1 2006

Pope and Armenian Seek to Surmount Schism

Benedict XVI Visits Cathedral to Attend Prayer Service

ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The ecumenical
character of Benedict XVI's journey to sister Churches in Turkey was
further highlighted with his visit to the Armenian Apostolic
Cathedral.

The Pope visited the cathedral today to attend a prayer service and
to meet with Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafina.

During the celebration of the Word, following the patriarch's
address, Benedict XVI clarified that "Our meeting is more than a
simple gesture of ecumenical courtesy and friendship."

"It is a sign of our shared hope in God's promises and our desire to
see fulfilled the prayer that Jesus offered for his disciples on the
eve of his suffering and death: 'That they may all be one. As you,
Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us, so that
the world may believe that you have sent me,'" the Pope said, quoting
from John 17:21.

"We must continue therefore to do everything possible to heal the
wounds of separation and to hasten the work of rebuilding Christian
unity," the Holy Father continued. "May we be guided in this urgent
task by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit."

The Armenian Apostolic Church separated from Rome after the Council
of Chalcedon in the year 451, which it was unable to attend because
of war.

Misunderstandings arose when it came to translating the terms of the
Council, thus altering its conceptual comprehension. That, and the
political confrontation with Byzantium, caused the schism, though
Armenian "Monophysitism" always remained a purely verbal error.

Plaque unveiled

The personal meeting and common prayer, as well as the unveiling of a
plaque in the Armenian and Turkish tongue, in memory of the visits of
Paul VI and John Paul II and, now, of Benedict XVI sought to express
the bond that exists between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the
Catholic Church.

It was a moment of recollection, in which the prayers and ritual
sequences making up the prayer service were drawn from various
elements of the Eucharistic celebration of the Armenian liturgy.

Before the entrance procession in the cathedral, in accordance with
the Armenian national tradition, the Holy Father was presented with
bread, salt and rose water as symbols of welcome and good wishes.

As Benedict XVI and Patriarch Mesrob II entered the cathedral, the
choir performed the chant Herasciapar Asdvadz (O Wondrous God), which
recounts the story of the conversion of the Armenian people to
Christianity -- the first Christian nation in history -- through the
efforts of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

At the foot of the altar, a prayer was recited. The Holy Father and
the patriarch then took their places before the sacred altar, from
which the Gospel, carried in procession from the entrance of the
cathedral, was solemnly proclaimed.

The prayer service in the Armenian cathedral expressed the joy of the
Armenian Apostolic Church at the visit of Benedict XVI.